In Cllr. Massaquoi’s Appointment, CSNL Expresses: ‘CONFIDENCE IN HIS COMPETENCE, CHARACTER’

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The Civil Society Network of Liberia (CSNL) has unreservedly welcome the appointment of Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi as Executive Director for The Office of War & Economic Crimes Court in Liberia.  In a press release issued yesterday, CSNL commends President Joseph Boakai for the critical steps taken towards the establishment of the Office of the War & Economic Crimes Court in Liberia, and sees Cllr. Massaquoi as a morally and professionally fit character for the job. The Civil Society outfit in its release said it has conducted investigations on the character and work history of Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi, establishing that his many years of legal practice have not only been marked by professionalism and integrity, but there is no trace of his involvement in moral and ethical transgressions. He is a legally revered and respected lawyer, with outstanding performance among the cream of legal practitioners in Liberia. We are of the strongest optimism that President Boakai’s appointment of Cllr. Massaquoi is in the right direction, as it will lead to the ultimate establishment of The War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia; it is noteworthy to state that the Supreme Court Bar appointed Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi as Amiscus Curie (friend of the court), where he wrote two different opinions that are used today by the Supreme Court to render down opinions on relevant cases before them, Cllr. Massaquoi’s Opinion on the cases: LTA Vs Orange Liberia and the (GOL) Vs Amos Brosius are among the reference opinions of the Supreme Court of Liberia, the release went on. The CSNL sees as legally and substantially flawed, argument from a handful of Civil Society organizations, under the banner of the Coalition for the Establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia and Human Rights Community of Liberia, that Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi is unqualified to head the Office of The Establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia, primarily because he provided legal representation for Madam Agnes Reeves Taylor, when she was on trial in the United Kingdom for alleged war crimes, and for that of a war crimes indictee from Sierra Leone, Mr. Gebril Massaquoi. We view this argument by these group of CSO institutions as a sidetracking attempt against the critical steps that the Liberian Government has taken to end impunity and institute justice and accountability in Liberia. The faulty logic of these few individuals, that by Cllr. Massaquoi’s representation of the legal interest of persons allegedly accused of war crimes makes him unqualified and compromised to serve as Executive Director is inconsistent with Article 21 (i) which gives all accused, including war crimes “the right to counsel” and absolute immunity from any government sanctions or interference in the performance of legal services as a counselor. As provided for under the lawyer client relationship, where lawyers are not party to a case, there can be no moral and professional question over the character of Cllr. Massaquoi. Furthermore, research conducted by the Civil Society Network of Liberia provides information on lawyers who provided representation for alleged war crimes indictee, yet they later got appointed to integrity and credible positions with no attachment of their character to their practice. Mr. Karim Ahmed Khan, who served as lead defense counsel to war crime convict, former President Charles Taylor and Mrs. Fatou Sankoh, wife of Foday Sankoh, was later elected Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Additionally, Her Honor Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was the defense counsel for inmates at Guantanamo Bay charged with terrorism and other heinous crimes, was appointed, confirmed and now serves as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the US. The Civil Society Network of Liberia calls on the few CSO institutions against the service of Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi as Executive Director of the Office of the War & Economic Crimes Court in Liberia to desist, as this astute lawyer is resolute to ensuring that the long awaited War and Economic Crimes Court is established in Liberia. We urge Cllr. Massaquoi not to be deterred, but remain focused and determined in working to bring to realization the mandate of establishing The War & Economic Crimes Court in Liberia is achieved.

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